Although many Auburn students might prefer to spend their spring break relaxing in one of the quaint beach neighborhoods peppering Highway 30A, hundreds of others have chosen to spend their time volunteering, researching and traveling overseas.
Amanda Carter, a senior in pre-veterinary sciences, spent an undergraduate spring break in the Florida Keys researching colorful species of shrimp for her Honors Marine Biology Research class.
Driving through the Keys, her research group would look for shallow spots where they could find the shrimp they were looking for.
“We’d just put on our wetsuits off the side of the road, and people would honk at us,” Carter said. “We’d snorkel around, try to find anemones and the specific type of shrimp we were researching.”
The class was researching Ancylomenes pedersoni (Pederson shrimp) and Periclimenes yucaranicus (spotted cleaner shrimp), two species of shrimp popular in the aquarium industry for their aesthetics. “These shrimp are absolutely beautiful,” Carter said. “Vibrant blue, vibrant red.”
In the wild, though, the shrimp are a necessary component of the ecosystem because they help keep their fish friends healthy by cleaning them of parasites.
Carter explained that the shrimp have fascinating social behaviors that dictate their cleaning, and removing shrimp from the group could damage the ecosystem’s delicate balance.
“The worry is that if we disrupt this hierarchy among the shrimp by collecting them for the aquarium trade, it will throw off everything,” Carter said.
Dublin the Fun
Grace Rudder, a senior in graphic design, says, contrary to popular belief, it is easy being green. She traveled with friends to the United Kingdom and spent this past St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland.
“Irish people love Americans,” Rudder said. “They’re so friendly, and when they find out you’re from America, they want to make sure you have a good time.”
In that sense, it’s a lot like Auburn. Rudder says she recognized the same friendliness and hospitality she knows from the Plains all the way across the Atlantic.
Amplifying Outreach (x4)
In each of her four years at Auburn, Carrie Anne Dillard, a senior in early childhood education, has gone on mission trips to the Florida coast. Amplify is First Baptist Church Opelika’s yearly spring break mission trip to the Florida communities of Port St. Joe and Apalachicola.
More than 300 students attend each year, and they can serve in either community outreach focus groups or construction teams, where they minister to members of low-income communities.
Dillard served on both styles of teams, but some of her favorite memories came from this year’s trip, where she served on a team that roofed the house of a woman named Mamie.
“Mamie liked to make jewelry,” Dillard said. “On our last day, some of the boys had to stay at Mamie’s house later to finish up, and when they came back they brought us back some bracelets that Mamie had made for us.”
The friendships she made through her spring break trips were the reason she kept going back. “When I came to college, I found my place at FBO,” Dillard said. “It was the hardest work I’ve ever done working on that roof, but also the most fun and the most rewarding thing to do for spring break.”